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Clicks Be Gone: AdTech Disrupter Moat Raises $12M Series B From Mayfield, Others

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Ad-tech may not be the most obvious face of digital advertising, but in a world in which the role of big data is getting ever more essential to how things work, it is taking up an increasingly important role. One sign of that comes from the funding that ad-tech players are getting in this space: today, ad-tech startup Moat announced that it has picked up a $12 million investment led by the Mayfield Fund and including existing investors.

The Series B investment takes the total amount invested in the company to $16.5 million with past investors including Ron Conway’s SV Angel, Founders Fund, Vast Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Founder Collective, and First Round Capital; as well as the WGI Group, an investment vehicle from Moat’s founders, Right Media ex-CEO Mike Walrath and brothers Jonah and Noah Goodhart.

As a result of the deal, Mayfield partner Tim Chang will join the board of Moat.

The news of Moat raising funds was first made public last Friday, in a Form D SEC filing, in which Moat noted it was raising up to $15 million. That filing did not mention the names of the investors or the amount of the VC investment and also included funds from previous rounds.

Unlike other ad-tech companies that also run ad networks, Moat has focused only on analytics that seek to take advertisers and publishers beyond the traditional metric of “clicks” as a way of gauging the effectiveness of a digital media campaign, which it offers in a software-as-a-service model.

Jonah Goodhart, who is also CEO of Moat, says that it is doing this in response to what he sees as possibly the biggest issue in digital advertising today — and you could argue the biggest gating factor restricting more growth. “What is clear to us is that there is a critical need to address how brand advertising is measured online,” he told me. “We hear that from advertisers, publishers, creative agencies, and ad exchanges. It is the topic of conversation at most advertising conferences and it is what everyone is talking about in the industry.” Even Google, he points out, has started to release its own non-click metrics, “which is
pretty remarkable given that the vast majority of Google’s revenue is based on ad clicks.”

Its Moat Intelligence product is now being used by 15,000 businesses including companies like Forbes and AOL (which owns TechCrunch). The newest product, a patent-pending analytics platform called Moat Analytics, follows campaigns in real-time and is based on engagement rather than simple clicks. So far it has measured billions of impressions on behalf of advertising and publishing clients. Moat says that today’s investment will be used to further expand that portfolio of products: the next will be a Premium Intelligence Platform due out later this year.

Goodhart says Moat it is not providing visibility on revenues at the moment, but that it is experiencing “very strong demand” for its SaaS business model, based on subscriptions rather than percentage of media spend. “I think clients are finding it refreshing to have a flat monthly price.”

What might be the next area to disrupt?

I asked Goodhart about where he sees mobile today, an area that many think has a bright future in digital advertising but has so far only represented a small fraction of overall media spend.

“It’s important from my perspective that we be able to measure apples-to-apples across different mediums as best we can. Each screen or platform has some unique features that are different but we should still be able to compare, for example, whether the ads were viewable by the user and for how long,” he said. He points out that its Intelligence and Analytics products already support mobile and tablet devices but “this is just in its infancy in terms of actual media spend today.”

[Image: Jim Mead, Flickr]